Crash Bandicoot came out in 1996 for the Sony PlayStation, and I remember having some rather fond memories playing this game as a kid on my uncle’s PlayStation. This game helped get Naughty Dog’s name out and become the successful company it is today, spawning two sequels and a racing game with several other developers handling the series afterward. Naughty Dog is also well known for the Jak & Daxter series, the Uncharted series, and The Last of Us. So this being the first Crash Bandicoot, and helping kickstart Naughty Dog’s success, it’s gotta be pretty good right?
Crash Bandicoot is a platformer developed before the now famous DualAnalog / DualShock came out for the Playstation, so movement is strictly from the D-Pad. This can make some bits of the game feel awkward. For the most part the controls work fine, but it’s not as smooth as some of the later entries in the series. Most levels take place in primarily 3D perspective, usually behind Crash’s back, since for the most part you’re going forward. A lot of the level designs seem to be reminiscent of designs from side-scrolling platform games in that regard. This leads to somewhat charming stages, while others are just flat out awkward or bad. There are also some stages along with all the bonus stages that do take place primarily in a 2D perspective. These tend to play a bit better just for the fact it’s a lot easier to judge your distance while jumping at that perspective, while the 3D perspective hinders in some cases. One such experience is the level “Road to Nowhere” which you’re generally traversing a bridge in heavy fog that breaks down and some of the jumps have to be rather precise. Most of the bosses in this game may come across as hard at first but generally have a set pattern they follow. Once you get the pattern memorized, they come off as pushovers for the most part, which is kind of disappointing.
One of the biggest downfalls of this game is its save system. You can either save your game on either a memory card or get a password to continue your progress. Sounds simple enough, right? Nope, instead of being able to save on the world map or something you’re required to save in the bonus levels which are accessed by getting icons throughout a level. Furthermore, not all the levels have them, making it more of a pain. Another way to save is by getting a level’s gem which requires you to destroy all the crates. The downside to the gem save though is even if you get a gem in a later level if it’s after you saved your level at a bonus stage, you’ll start back at the level which had the bonus level rather than where you saved your game after getting a gem, which in some cases is a pain in the ass.
Graphically, it is rather impressive for a PlayStation game back in 1996. Compare it to say Final Fantasy VII which came out a year later, and it honestly looks better for the most part. The levels are generally colorful and textured rather well, along with most of the models which if played through other means don’t look bad at higher resolutions. The soundtrack has some rather catchy and fun tunes to listen to while playing the game. Some aren’t as great as others but overall the game’s soundtrack is rather solid along with the wacky sound effects that this game has. Especially with some of the better stages in the game, it comes off as rather great.
Overall, the first Crash Bandicoot is an alright title with some issues that make it sometimes rather irritating. I do recommend picking up this title, however, if you haven’t played Crash Bandicoot 2 or Warped, to get a good grasp of how the series feels. If you’ve already played those two and haven’t played this one, I wouldn’t really recommend it as they are for the mostly superior to this game. You can either buy this game on eBay in the $10 – $20 range if I’m not mistaken or on PlayStation Network for play on the PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Portable for $5.99.